Israel's deadliest fire

Rambam Again at the Front

HAIFA, Friday, December 3, 2010  1:13:22 PM -- Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa has once again demonstrated the central role it plays in the State of Israel's trauma-and-rescue network.

On Thursday, the hospital admitted the four most severely wounded casualties of the devastating brushfire that raged out of control in the Carmel Mountains, and which has claimed the lives of more than forty rescue personnel.

Immediately upon receiving word of the fire's eruption, the hospital staff, who are trained for mass casualty situations (MCS), went on high alert. Rambam has acquired vast experience in events of this sort during wars and terrorist attacks, and this was expressed by its quick preparedness: tens of physicians and nurses made ready to receive the injured.

By terrible ill fortune, the catastrophic fire did not give most of the people trapped by it a chance, and only the most severely wounded of the few survivors were evacuated to Rambam. Three rescue personnel in serious condition were hospitalized in the ICU and treated for burns and smoke inhalation. Immediately afterwards, Haifa's Police Chief, Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer, who had been trapped by the blaze while commanding her forces, was rushed to Rambam.  By Friday afternoon, of the three men, one was in good condition, the other two remained in serious condition, but all had been stabilized. The popular Police Chief remains in critical condition and is fighting for her life. 

On Friday, the wounded and their families received a solidarity visit from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitz, and Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkovitz, a Haifa resident.  RHCC Director General Rafi Beyar escorted the visitors to the ICU and Plastic Surgery Departments, where they received updates from Dr. Yaron Bar-Lavie, Director, Department of Critical Care Medicine, and Dr. Yehuda Ullmann, Director of the Department of Plastic Reconstructive Surgery and the Burn Unit.

At a press conference at Rambam, the Prime Minister thanked Professor Beyar and the whole hospital staff in the name of the people of Israel for the devoted care given to the wounded. The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to thank the many countries that are providing help to Israel during the disaster.

"On the way to Rambam, we saw the firefighting planes of Greece dumping water on the flames. In the name of all the people of Israel, we thank all the countries that have come to our assistance at this time."